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Columbia UTMB Stories: Eoin Keith and running in the dark

by Press Release
Friday 9th June 2017
Tags  UTMB   |   Eoin Keith   |   Spine Race   |   Columbia
In the first of a series of Columbia UTMB stories Eoin Keith, winner of the 2016 Spine Race and holder of the record for the length of Ireland (bottom to top) from Mizen Head to Malin Head, talks about running in the dark. 
Columbia running ambassador Eoin Keith, 48, knows running in the dark better than most. A specialist of long (and very long) distances, Eoin had learn to run at night to achieve records over 2, 4 and even 6 days races. His training, taking place on the hill overlooking the city of Dublin with a headlamp as his third eye can be viewed here:

'The kind of people who enjoy running at night, especially in isolation, further and further away from civilisation, are the most adventurous kind of runners. It’s a different breed who come out and take the chance, who have the confidence to run at night. They are 100% responsible for their own safety.'
Eoin Keith - 
"It’s very important to be comfortable running at night for the UTMB®, because about 2 or 3 hours into the race, the light goes down, you’re in the darkness, and you’re going to spend a whole night out there no matter what. You have to be absolutely comfortable running in the night and be comfortable in the nighttime environment surrounded by the darkness. You could feel very alone and isolated, and you have to do your own navigation. "
"Nothing is better practice for running at night than going out and running at night!" Because in addition to the equipment, running at night requires specific skills. "It’s really very simple. It applies to almost every aspect of running." The idea, he says, is that it becomes a routine, so that it flows so and you no longer have to think about it. "You have to make sure of the kind of technical ground that’s ahead, make sure your foot is hitting the right section that you wanted to. That takes a lot more concentration at night because you are working in a smaller area. You can’t see such a long distance ahead, so obstacles are coming at you a lot faster, your brain has to work faster, it has to be kind of automatic. If you are thinking about it too much, your speed will drop right down. You have to make it more automatic so you can move your speed up. You are never as fast as you can on daytime, because it is more technical, it is more difficult." 
About Eoin Keith
After this first race, a marathon at the age of 30, Eoin Keith became passionate about running. Since then his race distances have continued to grow in length and resulted in first place finishes in the Six Days of New York race and and the brutal Spine Race, completed in just over 95 hours. "I’m most competitive when the weather goes bad and the challenges increase. The more difficult the circumstances become, the more I tend to excel in the races. I revel in the challenges!. 
The UTMB®, where his best result in four attempts is 20th place, represents a short distance for him, "the shortest of my season", but this does not take away the challenge. Quite the contrary. "UTMB® is the pinnacle of ultra trail distance running, it gets the most competitive field, in the world, consistently, and this year the field is outstanding. I no longer try to target a position in the race!. For the 2017 edition, he aims at equalling his personal best, just below the 25-hour mark.

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